LeBron James has spent more than half of his life playing professional basketball. Over time, he has developed into one of the top basketball players of all time. That includes winning four championships with three different teams. He has also won Finals MVP each of those times with the Heat, Cavaliers, and Lakers. For his efforts, he has consistently had his name present in the GOAT conversation.
When it comes to the 21st century, James is the best product we have seen. James likely has a few seasons left in his career, but if he stopped today, he would own multiple records in the playoffs. James had plenty of games to accumulate a large amount of stats since he has made the NBA Finals 10 times. Currently, there are eight major records that James owns, while he is chasing first for a few others.
These are the all-time playoff ranks for LeBron James.
Total Games - 1st
1. LeBron James: 266 Games
2. Derek Fisher: 259 Games
3. Tim Duncan: 251 Games
As mentioned, James has made the NBA Finals 10 times in his career, where he owns a 4-6 record in the Finals. It takes four games to win a playoff series, so that is at least 16 games at a bare minimum. That does not include all of the times that his teams went to seven games. If you do the math, James put together about 200 or more games while reaching the NBA Finals.
James first led the Cavaliers to the Finals in 2007 before the Spurs came out victorious. The Spurs also beat James in the playoffs in 2014 when he was with Miami. While with the Heat, the team made the Finals each season from 2011 to 2014. Then, James left to return to the Cavaliers, where the team made the Finals from 2015 to 2018, including winning a seven-game series in 2016. James won the Finals in 2020 with the Lakers to win his fourth title.
Total Wins - 1st
1. LeBron James: 174 Wins
2. Derek Fisher: 161 Wins
3. Tim Duncan: 157 Wins
As mentioned about his game appearances, to win a championship, you must win 16 games at the bare minimum. With four championships, James amassed 64 wins for his four championships. James made the NBA Finals 10 times in his career and that is winning at least 12 games. If you do the math, that comes out to 120 wins just for making the Finals all those years.
Outside of making the Finals, there were other times that James led the Cavaliers to the Conference Finals in his early years. Those extra 54 wins are still a lot more wins than some players ever have in their career. If James can win two more titles, which is his ultimate goal to tie Michael Jordan, he could be the first player to reach 200 wins in his career.
Points - 1st
1. LeBron James: 7,631 Points
2. Michael Jordan: 5,931 Points
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 5,762 Points
Imagine a scenario where Michael Jordan doesn’t leave the league in 1993 and 1998. Would you be talking about Jordan chasing down the 10,000-point man in the playoffs? Instead, James passed Jordan a few years back on the all-time playoff scoring list. James is now a little less than 2,400 playoff points from accomplishing that goal. Getting to 10,000 career points would be a lofty goal. When James won the title in 2020, he scored 580 points. He would need to play in four more NBA Finals and score about 600 points each time.
James led all playoff scorers six times. In 2007, James scored 501 points. When he won his first title in 2012, he scored 697 points and then repeated as a champion in 2013 with 596 points. James missed out on a title in 2015 but scored 601 points. His last two appearances with Cleveland saw the team miss out on a title, but he scored 591 points in 2017 and a career-high 748 points in 2018.
Rebounds - 6th
1. Bill Russell: 4,104 Rebounds
2. Wilt Chamberlain: 3,913 Rebounds
6. LeBron James: 2,391 Rebounds
James is exactly 90 rebounds away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and making the top 5. James would need a little more than 120 rebounds to pass Shaquille O’Neal for fourth. After that, James would need to creep into the 2,800s to flirt with Tim Duncan for third place. Reaching Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell is probably unlikely unless James makes the NBA Finals seven more times.
Let’s say that third place is realistic. James would need a little more than 400 rebounds. When James made the Finals in 2020, he recorded a career-high 226 rebounds in the playoffs. If James can make two more appearances in the Finals, he would probably hover around 175 rebounds at this point. Throw in another playoff appearance in the next five years and he could potentially pass Duncan.
Assists - 2nd
1. Magic Johnson: 2,346 Assists
2. LeBron James: 1,919 Assists
3. John Stockton: 1,839 Assists
13 players have recorded at least 1,000 career assists in the playoffs. Only one player has made it over 2,000 career assists, but James could figure to join Magic Johnson shortly. James has passed the likes of Larry Bird, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, and Jason Kidd on this list. He also owns nearly 100 more assists than John Stockton, the man who owns the all-time career mark for assists.
James is 427 assists away from Johnson. It would require at least three long playoff runs for James to catch him. When James was bounced in the first round in 2021, he recorded 43 assists in that series. Five years of first-round exits will not cut it. When James made the Finals in 2020, he recorded 184 assists in those playoffs. There are 10 instances where James finished with at least 100 assists or more in the playoffs.
Steals - 1st
1. LeBron James: 454 Steals
2. Scottie Pippen: 395 Steals
3. Michael Jordan: 376 Steals
The top-2 leaders in this group were from the Bulls dynasty that won six championships. That was before James became the first player to surpass 400 playoff steals. The next goal on his list will be making it to the 500-club. It’s not an unrealistic goal if James sticks around for four to five more years.
The Lakers, or whatever team he plays for after this season, would need to make at least three playoff appearances if you follow the stats. James has not recorded less than 20 steals in the playoffs since his first playoff appearance. Assuming he can keep that production up now at his age, he could total 60 playoff steals in three seasons.
Blocks - 10th
1. Tim Duncan: 568 Blocks
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 476 Blocks
10. LeBron James: 252 Blocks
James is 37 years old and has not recorded 300 career blocks and he would need more than 300 blocks to pass Duncan. James is also not the only active player in the top 10, as Serge Ibaka is ranked eighth with 292 career blocks. With that said, reaching 300 blocks could be realistic. There are only seven players in the history of the league to do that. Along with Duncan and Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Robert Parish, and Patrick Ewing have accomplished that.
James hovers around 20 blocks per Finals appearance. If he can make the Finals and record about 20 blocks in that stretch, it would get him on the cusp. He would need a few other playoff appearances to finish the job. With that said, it’s a toss-up because he recorded just two blocks in his last playoff series, which was a first-round exit.
Total Minutes - 1st
1. LeBron James: 11,035 Minutes
2. Tim Duncan: 9,370 Minutes
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 8,851 Minutes
James is the only player in the history of the NBA to surpass 10,000 career playoff minutes. If you take into account the regular season, this is a lot of playing time. That can take a major toll on the human body, especially when you are entering your 30s. Despite all of the physical grind James has put his body through, he has been pretty durable and has rarely missed games when his teams needed him the most.
For just the second time in the last decade, James missed the playoffs last season. With a new roster and a new motive for winning in 2022-23, we can assume that James will look to push the Lakers back into the playoffs. How long the Lakers can go will determine how far this record will be stretched.
Field Goals Made - 1st
1. LeBron James: 5,502 Field Goals
2. Kobe Bryant: 4,499 Field Goals
3. Michael Jordan: 4,497 Field Goals
The names at the top of the playoff field goals made list are extremely impressive. It’s even more impressive to point out that James has scored over 1,000 more field goals than the runner-up in Kobe Bryant. Assuming that Jordan would have made the playoffs in 1994, 1999, 2000, and 2001, and made an average of 200 field goals each time, James would still have more than him right now.
James has made 200 or more field goals in the playoffs seven times. In each of those seasons, he led all players in the playoffs for most field goals made. When James made the NBA Finals each season from 2011 to 2018, he made over 200 field goals all but one season. That came in 2014 when he made 192 field goals. His career-high of 275 came in 2018.
Three-Point Field Goals Made - 3rd
1. Stephen Curry: 561 3PM
2. Klay Thompson: 451 3PM
3. LeBron James: 432 3PM
James will never hold this record as long as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are in the league. Given that both players are younger than James, it’s probably a given. James could ultimately slide down the all-time rankings. When looking at the top 10, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Danny Green remain active in the league. All three players own over 300 career three-point field goals made.
Shooting the three-ball was never his true specialty. James has improved his three-point shooting in the last few playoff appearances. His career-high of 44 made three-pointers came in 2020, which tied his 2017 output. Those were the only two seasons he made more than 40 threes in a playoff push.
Free Throws Made - 1st
1. LeBron James: 1,749 Free Throws
2. Michael Jordan: 1,463 Free Throws
3. Kobe Bryant: 1,320 Free Throws
There are 13 players in the history of the NBA that have made 1,000 or more free throws in the playoffs. The only other active player besides James is Kevin Durant. Six players have made at least 1,200 free throws, which could be Durant next season if his team makes a long playoff push. As for James, he has a chance to eventually make 2,000 free throws in the playoffs.
It would require James to make the NBA Finals at least one more season. History shows that when James made the NBA Finals, he will make at least 100 free throws. He made as many as 173 free throws in 2012 and 159 in 2018. In 2020, James made 108 free throws. If James can make two more appearances, it would be a done deal.
Double-Doubles - 4th
1. Tim Duncan: 162 Double-Doubles
2. Magic Johnson: 157 Double-Doubles
4. LeBron James: 130 Double-Doubles
If James can make a few more playoff appearances, he will make the top-3 in no time. James is 13 double-doubles away from overtaking Shaquille O’Neal for the next spot on the list. At this stage of his career, securing 33 double-doubles to beat Tim Duncan might be a stretch.
There are two times that James has averaged a double-double in the playoffs. He averaged 30.1 points and 11.3 rebounds in 2015. The other time was when he averaged 27.6 points and 10.8 rebounds. If we had to make a prediction, it seems like James will probably finish his career in third place.
Triple-Doubles - 2nd
1. Magic Johnson: 30 Triple-Doubles
2. LeBron James: 28 Triple-Doubles
3. Russell Westbrook: 12 Triple-Doubles
This is an interesting record to watch for the next few years. Assuming James can make the playoffs, he would need three games with a triple-double to surpass Magic Johnson. James will be 38 years old next season. The oldest player to record a triple-double was John Stockton at 39 years and 33 days. James owns the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth oldest spots for a player recording a triple-double. Given that James recorded five triple-doubles at the age of 35, it’s not unrealistic to think he could do it three more times in the playoffs.
The main hurdle would be that Russell Westbrook is on the team next season. James did not record a single triple-double. When James recorded those five triple-doubles, he was the primary ball handler that led the league in assists.
Plus/Minus - 1st
1. LeBron James: +1,310
2. Tim Duncan: +1,090
3. Draymond Green: +1,005
There are only three players that have a +1,000 rating in the playoffs or more. The first is James, who holds a steady lead over Tim Duncan. Draymond Green is the other player with a rating of over 1,000. Rounding out the top 5 are Manu Ginobili and Stephen Curry.
The difference between Green and James is that James has played in 121 more playoff games. Also, out of all of the players in the top-5, he is the only player that averages over 40 minutes of playing time in the playoffs.
More Records Could Be Broken In The Future With 2 More Finals Appearances
What would it take for James to surpass Jordan as the greatest player of all time? For some, that would be James winning two more championships. Assuming that James can make two more title runs, that would bring his Finals record to 6-6 in 12 appearances, which would double that of Jordan’s playoff championship resume. It would also likely push him to at least two more playoff records and move him up the ladder in a few other categories.
While James will turn 38 years old next season, he can get more wins, points, games, and much more. For some of the records he already owns, it would pad his lead to make those records untouchable. It would take another player like James to break those records and right now it’s hard to say what player could be that for the future.